Australia 3-1 Honduras: match report
Australia emerged victorious from a gritty match against Honduras in Sydney to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, their fourth successive tournament. Captain Mile Jedinak will be toasted at barbecues across the country after scoring two penalties and thundering in a deflected free-kick. The visitors scored a late consolation goal through Alberth Elis, but their World Cup dream comes to an end following a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Honduras.
"This is special - to do it in front of our home fans in a do-or-die contest,” said Jedinak after the passage to Russia had been secured.
For much of the first half, the do-or-die nature of the tie was rather too taken literally. The match was a niggly, attritional battle, with occasional outbreaks of football swiftly halted by wince-inducing tackles. Matthew Jurman was booked after two minutes for a reckless tackle on Elis. It could have been a red card, and it set the tone for 45 minutes of blood, guts, and thunder. In a match with such high stakes, that did not come as a great surprise.
The Socceroos made their superior quality count after the break. Jedinak forced the opening goal on 53 minutes with a driven free-kick from just outside the box. His shot ricocheted off the side of the wall, slapped the thigh of Henry Figeroa, and spun agonisingly in to the net. One for the DVD compilation, it was not.
When your luck is in, it’s in. The ANZ Stadium emitted a collective roar of relief when Bryan Acosta was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box with twenty minutes remaining. It appeared harsh on first viewing. Acosta’s contorted body position meant his hand and foot were close together when he made contact with the ball. Replays revealed that it was his hand that made the first contact.
Jedinak exhaled, ran a hand through his beard, and tucked the ball beyond Donis Escober in to the depths of the bottom corner. Up until that point, an equaliser would have taken Honduras through on away goals. The penalty changed the complexion of the match significantly.
Jerry Palacios gave the Argentine referee a far more straightforward penalty decision in the 85th minute. With Robbie Kruse bearing down on goal, the burly centre-half had enough, and scythed him down from behind. Jedinak sent this one down the middle, and sent Australia to the World Cup.
Alberth Elis scuffed a consolation goal in from close range in added time, but the Honduran players barely hada chance to amble back to the half-way line before the referee called time on their agricultural attempt to reach Russia.
Australia 3-1 Honduras: as it happened
Australia qualify for the 2018 World Cup courtesy of a hat-trick from captain Mile Jedinak.
90'+3' GOOOOOL! Honduras scramble home from close range after Ryan failed to claim the corner. It looks like Elis applied the final touch, not that it matters.
90'+3' A consolation corner for Honduras...
90'+2' Mooy tees up Juric at the far post as Australia pile forward for a fourth. The watches the ball on to his foot, goes for the spectacular, and blasts it over.
89' A final change for the hosts. Mark Milligan ambles to the touchline to be greeted by head ruffles and slaps on the back. James Troisi comes on the for the closing stages.
88' Sainsbury goes in to the book for a foul on the edge of the box. Honduras will be able to shoot in search of a consolation goal...
85' GOOOOOOOOL! Jedinak completes an unlikely hat-trick, sending this spot kick straight down the middle. Australia are off to Russia.
84' ANOTHER PENALTY TO AUSTRALIA! Palacios appears personally affronted by the fact that Kruse is clean through on goal, and scythes him down.
82' Bryan Acosta scoops the set piece well wide.
81' Alberth Elis has his ankle caught by Leckie, and Honduras have a free-kick in a decent position, 25 yards out.
80' Mathew Ryan dives at the feet of Alberth Elis to claim the ball and picks up a knock to the knee in the process. He grimaces but will be fine to continue.
78' 77,060 is the attendance.
77' Australia sub: Tom Rogic goes off. The No.10, Robbie Kruse, takes his place.
76' Maynor Figeroa thunders a free-kick in to the wall from 35 yards, and some. He's partial to a spectacular goal. No such luck on this occasion, though.
75' Honduras respond to that with a substitution. Eddie Hernandez replaces Romell Quioto. Henry Figeroa also goes off, with Mario Martínez taking his place.
72' GOOOOOOOL! Mile Jedinak tucks the ball in to the bottom corner and the Socceroos are well on their way to Russia! Donis Escober guessed the right way but couldn't get a glove to it.
72' Jedinak is over the ball...
71' PENALTY TO AUSTRALIA! Acosta is penalised for handball... that's very harsh. The ball appeared to hit his foot at the same time as his hand.
69' Honduras are bustling about on the ball. They've been more involved in the last five minutes. In typically Honduran fashion though, it comes to an end with a foul. Bryan Acosta is the culprit this time.
66' Tim Cahill trots off as Australia make their first change. Tomi Juric takes his place.
64' Anthony Lozano slips, and overhits a through-ball intended for Elis. Honduras lack the subtlety to find a breakthrough.
58' Tim Cahill hits the woodwork! Honduras clear the free-kick but the ball comes back towards them after their counter-attack breaks down. Cahill leaps up from the penalty spot to help a long ball on towards goal. Escober looks disorientated as the ball loops down and thuds off the bar.
57' Jorge Claros dives in on Behich just outside the corner of the box, completely missed the ball, and gives away a clear free-kick. Mooy waits over it, poised to deliver.
56' Although Australia are ahead, they are still in a precarious position. The away-goals rule dictates that if Honduras score, they will progress to the World Cup.
54' GOOOOOL! Australia opt for brute force rather than guile and Mile Jedinak blasts the ball towards goal. It takes a couple of deflections, the final one off Henry Figeroa, and settles in the middle of the net. By god it was ugly, but the Aussie crowd are not fussed.
53' Mooy has a free-kick 25 yards out. If this game is going to be decided by anything, you sense it'll be a moment of quality from a set-piece.
49' Australia start the second half with a flurry of corners. Honduras deal with them until Mooy swings one straight out of play himself.
46' We're back underway in Sydney!
Australia have dominated the ball, and Honduras appear pretty happy for Australia to dominate the ball. The Central Americans are well-organised and strong in the air. The first half won't feature in any compilation DVDs...
45'+3' HT. Escober pumps the ball long and the referee doesn't allow it to land before putting his whistle to his lips.
45' The fourth official holds up his board to indicate two minutes of added time.
43' Aaron Mooy tries a little to hard to nudge Elis off the ball, and the Honduran battering ram wins a foul. The match is niggling its way towards the break. If I were a betting man, I would be putting my money on a soiree in to extra time.
41' Honduras are forced in to a substitution. Henry Figeroa replaces Izaguirre, who appeared to have picked up an ankle problem.
40' Izaguirre lies on the ground holding his head while the referee summons for a stretcher. He won't make it to half time.
39' Free-kick to Australia in Aaron Mooy territory. He stands hands on hips, and opts for a dink to the far post. Jedinak was the target. It actually lands for Palacios, who clears the danger.
36' The best chance of the match falls to Tom Rogic on the edge of the six-yard box. The rangy midfielder latches on to Behich's cut-back and scuffs a shot with his left foot. Escober doesn't claim the ball cleanly, but gathers it in at the second attempt.
33' Emilio Izaguirre is sat behind the goal, with his boot off, rolling his ankle around in an attemot to loosen it up. He looks to be in a bit of a pickle.
32' Ever Alvarado concedes a corner and leaves the linesman in absolutely no doubt that he disagrees with the decision.
30' Elis embarks on a blustering run through the middle, shrugging off the incoming Australian defenders. Trent Sainsbury extends his leg to rob the Honduran No.17 of the ball as he is preparing to pull the trigger.
25' A mid-half lull in proceedings gives me the chance to admire the Honduran kit. That massive 'H' on the chest is very different. Get 'em in the World Cup for that.
22' Mile Jedinak sends Elis flying to the floor, where he lies furiously rubbing his head. More than a hint of elbows...
19' Mooy chips the free-kick towards the far post, where the big bearded figure of Jedinak is waiting to nod it back across goal. Honduras fail to clear initially, but Mooy eventually gives the away side the chance to relieve the pressure with a bery speculative shot bouncing off Claros' shin.
18' Captain Maynor Figeroa becomes the first Honduran name to be scribbled down in the referee's book. He was somehow outmanouevred by 37-year-old Tim Cahill, and responds by upending him.
16' Behich is wrongly flagged offside on the left. The wing-back had a couple of players to aim at towards the far post.
14' Mile Jedinak has a few choice words for Jerry Palacios after the hefty centre-half fells Behich. He's part of the vast clan of Palacios footballers that also includes Wilson (formerly of Tottenham and Wigan), and he's built like an industrial fridge.
12' Mooy whips a devilish ball towards the near post, which Donis Escober watches intently and parries away. The faintest of touches and Escober would have been unable to react.
11' Aaron Mooy is causing Honduras problems with his movement. The Huddersfield man drifts out to the left and invites a foul from Johnny Palacios. Mooy dusts himself off and stands over the set piece...
9' Mathew Ryan panis for a moment as Romell Quioto's speculative hoof intended to prevent the ball running out for a goal kick drops down from the heavens towards his goalmouth. The Brighton 'keeper breathes a sigh of relief as it plops on to the roof of the net.
7' Emilio Izaguirre challenges Tim Cahill (who is wearing the No.4 shirt. I mean, we know he's good in the air, but come on) a little too enthusiastically and concedes a foul out on the touchline. Honduras have already shown that they will be full of heel-nibbling competetiveness.
5' Australia are dominating possession in the early stages, with Behich amd Leckie hugging the touchlines to provide wide options.
2' Phwoar, that's an agricultural, studs-up reducer from Matthew Jurman and he goes in to the book for that challenge on Alberth Elis. The Honduran writhes on the floor and you can understand why. Perhaps the referee was retiscent to brandish a red card so early. Jurman could have had few complaints if he was sent off for an early bath.
1' We're off! A guttral roar greets the whistle. The Aussie crowd are certainly up for this.
The teams are out on the pitch in Sydney. The stands behind them are bathed in gold Australian shirts.
Australia flew back from the first leg in Honduras in remarkably futuristic fashion. Their chartered plane had massage tables, and they even used special 'Re-Timer' glasses that shine light on to your face to reduce jetlag. That alone should give the Aussies an edge...
There are allegations of espionage in the air ahead of this crunch match. The Honduran Football Federation has raised concerns after this drone was spotted hovering above their training session on Monday.
Barcelona B's Anthony Lozano will lead the line for Honduras. He spent time on trial with Harry Redknapp's Tottenham in 2010, before commencing a career that took him to Valencia, back to Honduras, to Tenerife, and on to Barcelona.
Both teams will be lining up with three-man defences, as is the tactical vogue at the moment.
Honduras XI: Escober; Palacios, Alvarado, Figueroa; Beckeles, Claros, Acosta, Izaguirre; Elis, Lozano, Quioto.
Australia XI: Ryan; Wright, Sainsbury, Jurman; Jedinak, Milligan; Leckie, Rogic, Mooy, Behich; Cahill.
Buenos días! What a treat it is to have such an important football match so early in the morning. It's like bounding down the stairs on Christmas morning to find a massive present under the tree. Brew yourself a nice strong coffee and settle in.